Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Future of Gardening

I had the pleasure of visiting with Dr. Joanne Logan's class over at the University of Tennessee yesterday. A diverse group of freshmen from all over Tennessee and elsewhere has been spending the past semester learning where food comes from and how to grow it. I received the impression that this generation of citizens will take their food much more seriously than my generation did, and good for them!

I talked about overcoming the obstacles to home food production, problems such as limited space, little or no sunshine, and the ever-present demands upon our time. You can find an outline of my remarks posted under the "Go Vols" tab on this page.

The students seemed to be most interested in the various ways that technology is being applied to revolutionize the way food is grown. We discussed research on LED lighting systems that is currently taking place at UT. Check out this video.

We also discussed the new household appliances on the market, devices intended to automate and simplify food production right in the kitchen. One example is AeroGarden. Other innovations include systems that can be controlled from a smartphone or other mobile device, and professional automated systems that fit in the space typically required by a dishwasher.

As food gardening becomes ever more popular, watch for more innovations designed to make growing at least a portion of your own food a reasonable and cost effective approach for almost anyone. As with other segments of the Internet of Things, look for more digital gardening technology in the near future. Current gardening apps are often simply digital versions of older forms of garden planning and journaling aids. Newer innovations are likely to include a greater degree of customization for individual needs, such as tailoring advice to a particular region of the country.

Plant breeders are responding to the surge in home gardening, also, with each year bringing more offerings of compact-growing vegetables suited to container cultivation or small space gardens.

Food gardening is getting to be more fun every year. It's never too soon to start making plans to grow some food at home in 2016.

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